Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sea Turtle Finds Help in Georgia; She's Back in Ocean -- Healthy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sea Turtle Finds Help in Georgia; She's Back in Ocean -- Healthy

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski, Times-Union staff writer

JEKYLL ISLAND -- Peaches came to Georgia critically ill and alone several weeks ago.

The young loggerhead sea turtle was rescued from the brink of death by Georgia and Florida wildlife biologists. Healthy and impatient to swim, Peaches was released yesterday into the sea at Jekyll Island with cheers from about 200 beachgoers who gathered to watch.

"This is awesome. I can't believe how beautiful they are," said Pam Wolfe of Charlotte, N.C. "It's incredible -- the coolest thing that I've seen on any vacation."

Peaches' recovery and release coincided with more good news, said Mark Dodd, sea turtle coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

"It's been a record-setting nesting year for Georgia," Dodd said. "Right now, we've got 1,451 nests. That's the most we've had in at least 15 years, and we expect to get a few more before the nesting season ends."

The previous record was 1,419 nests.

Florida nesting statistics were unavailable.

Peaches was found stranded June 22 on Blackbeard Island in neighboring McIntosh County by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service personnel patroling for turtle nests.

She was covered in heavy barnacles from head to tail, severely malnourished and emaciated.

"She was like the barely living dead. She hadn't eaten for about a month," Dodd said. "A piece of bone was sticking out of one flipper where her flesh had begun to decompose."

Because Georgia has no facilities to care for ill or injured sea turtles, Peaches was taken to the Marine Science Center at Ponce Inlet, south of Daytona Beach.

The center's staff put her on antibiotics, cleaned off the barnacles and nursed her back to health with a nutritious diet and plenty of rest.

Yesterday, they determined that Peaches was strong enough to be released. …

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